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Jesus J. Zertuche, Cascada de Piedra Pinta [Waterfall of the Painted Rock]

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About the Artist/Site

Jesus Zertuche was born in the city of Allende in the Mexican border state of Coahuila de Zaragoza. After serving time in the army, he continued working for them, teaching new recruits, until he was hired to work as a cowboy and ranch hand for O.C. Fisher, U.S. representative for Texas’s 21st congressional district. Fisher ultimately helped Zertuche officially immigrate to west Texas, and he continued to work on the Fisher ranch, near Junction, Texas, for 24 years, until he moved to San Angelo in 1979.

There, Zertuche began to sheathe his new home in limestone, working daily after his day jobs in a foundry and an auto parts store. He gathered light-colored stones from around the region and repurposed the general construction skills he had picked up over the years, setting the stones into a black mortar to heighten visual interest. After completing the exterior ornamentation of his home, around 2000 he built a perimeter wall with an elaborate arched entryway in front. His next idea for a project was to create a small pond in the back with a waterfall so that his wife could cool off during the hot San Angelo summer days; however, she died prior to this project, so he decided to develop his idea on a much more monumental scale, and began constructing what would become a 20-foot-tall waterfall and pond in the front yard instead. Adorned with unusual natural forms, he gravitated toward rocks and twisted roots in which he could see the shape of animals both real and fantastic; among the creatures that adorn the construction are a red six-foot-long “snake” and the “goat sucker” chupacabra, a legendary and mysterious predator that, vampire-like, sucks the blood from goats and other livestock. Certain elements are identified with Zertuche’s hand-painted signs in both English and Spanish, and, as with the sheathing of the home, many of the light-colored stones are set into black mortar to increase the contrast. Large trees shade the oasis and small plants and flowers enhance its appearance.

Zertuche completed this elaborate waterfall project in three years, and, now retired, is now more interested in supporting his Jehovah’s Witness ministry than in creating additional works on his corner lot. Nevertheless, he is amiable and gracious, and delights in showing interested visitors his elaborate constructions.  

~Jo Farb Hernández



Map and site information

Not Exact Address
San Angelo, Texas, United States
Latitude/Longitude: 31.463772 / -100.437037

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